Tun­nel ex­ten­sion will save woods

HS2 deep bore will no go past South Heath

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jack Abell jack.abell@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE GOV­ERN­MENT has agreed to ex­tend the HS2 tun­nel through the Chilterns to be­yond South Heath.

The move fol­lows rec­om­men­da­tions from the HS2 se­lect com­mit­tee to do this in or­der to mit­i­gate the im­pact of the line.

An an­nounce­ment was made on the sub­ject on Fri­day, Au­gust 28 and will in­volve an amend­ment be­ing made to the HS2 hy­brid bill to ex­tend the deep bored tun­nel 2.6km to a new por­tal just past South Heath.

By con­tin­u­ing the main tun­nel all the way past the vil­lage, the gov­ern­ment says that there will now no longer be a need for a sep­a­rate ‘green tun­nel’, de­signed to re­duce noise and help blend the line into the land­scape.

It will also mean that the scale and du­ra­tion of con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity will be re­duced, and that 12 hectares of wood­land in Man­tle’s Wood, Sibley’s Cop­pice and Far­things Wood will be saved.

The HS2 se­lect com­mit­tee vis­ited the Chilterns ear­lier this year and has been hear­ing pe­ti­tions from peo­ple liv­ing in the area.

It made there com­men­da­tions hav­ing heard sev­eral ar­gu­ments about the in­creased need for mit­i­ga­tion.

How­ever, it has not so far ac­cepted the case for a ‘Chilterns Long Tun­nel’ which would have seen the whole of the HS2 line through the Chilterns Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty buried un­der­ground, and says that it is not likely to be per­suaded of this ar­gu­ment.

Ch­eryl Gil­lan, MP for Che­sham and Amer­sham, has also been lob­by­ing the Depart­ment for Trans­port to make the changes.

Trans­port min­is­ter Robert Good­will said: “We are com­mit­ted to lis­ten­ing to the com­mu­ni­ties that live along the HS2 route as we de­liver the rail­way’s im­por­tant na­tional ben­e­fits.

“These new pro­pos­als will pro­tect wood­land and mean less dis­rup­tion for peo­ple liv­ing nearby. It is es­sen­tial that we take their views into ac­count so that we build this vi­tal rail­way in the best way pos­si­ble.”

Ali­son Munro, HS2 man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of de­vel­op­ment, said: “HS2 is de­ter­mined to keep the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of the pro­ject as small as pos­si­ble and we recog­nise the im­por­tance of lis­ten­ing to stake­hold­ers and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties as we con­tinue to de­velop the scheme.

“Ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects like HS2 will al­ways be about strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween en­gi­neer­ing, cost and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts. We will re­main open to po­ten­tial de­sign im­prove­ments and I be­lieve to­day’s pro­pos­als would de­liver a suc­cess­ful long-term so­lu­tion for South Heath, Hyde Heath, Great Mis­senden and the wider area.”

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